Story By Jennifer Duong, UTA Communications Student
Video by NaKadia Hackworth
ARLINGTON, Texas -- UTA basketball's first game on Homecoming Week, when the Mavericks host Loyola Marymount on Nov. 11, is approaching quickly.
Sophomore guard DJ Bryant has been working non-stop during off-season and was the first one on the court and last one to leave during the team's annual preseason training boot camp. Beginning his sophomore year at UTA, Bryant is eager to start the season.
"I knew he was going to come out as one of the top at Boot Camp. DJ is every coach's dream. He's very disciplined and when you tell him to work on something, he does just that." -- UTA head coach Scott Cross
A 2016 high school graduate of Riverview High School in Florida where he was a four-year letter winner. Bryant helped lead his high school to the state finals while balancing extra-curricular activities such as his National Honor Society membership, Fellowship of Christian Athletes presidency and more. Get to know the Maverick's No. 2, DJ Bryant.
What led you to play basketball at UTA?
"I love the coach, staff and the bond the players have. One of the big parts of my decision was that I have some extended family out here (in Texas). My grandfather on my dad's side, uncles and young cousins."
Who is the upperclassmen that you look up to?
"I feel like I can learn something from everybody and hopefully they can learn something from me as well."
Do you have any advice you want the incoming college athletes to know?
"Take it all in! It's everybody's dream to play Division I basketball. I feel when you get here you can't take things for granted and remember to stay true to the process."
How do you balance your basketball career and school life?
"Being on the road you might miss a week straight of classes. I just have to remember to keep in contact with teachers and guidance counselors. It makes a big difference."
Who is the best team you've faced?
"Definitely the Saint Mary Gaels. We beat them and that was a huge win for our program. When we are locked in and ready to go, we can play any team in the country. But, watching them in film, you see they are very disciplined and do all the little things."
What is your most memorable game?
"Saint Mary's, Texas and BYU. The atmosphere for all those games were amazing. I remember getting back from the Texas game at 1 a.m. after our win and we had fans waiting outside the bus. That's just something you never forget."
How do you feel now that the season is right around the corner?
"Excited. It was a long off-season that seemed like forever. I feel like we got a lot better. We brought in some new guys and once we get gelling I think we'll be special."
Do you have a close relationship with former UTA Maverick coach and player Reggie Brown?
"Yes, Coach Brown is my uncle. I know he has seen it all because he's a Division I coach. He definitely gives me tips and attends every home game. I know if I ever need to reach out to him I can call him and he would be willing to talk and help me."
What kind of doors have opened from your relationship with Marreese Speights?
"A whole lot. I started playing with his travel team in 8th grade. I met his best friend, Aaron Holmes, and he became a big brother to me. Aaron took me under his wing and told me that I was going to play Division I basketball one day. No matter what anybody else said he believed in me and pushed me to meet those expectations."
Do you feel that you inspired your teammates after receiving the tough guy award?
"Definitely. Boot camp is a week-long process and everybody talks about it throughout the season. I just try to change the mentality from `get through it' to `attack it.'"
Where did your strong faith come from?
"My parents and the people I've been around go to church, but in the 7th grade I took it upon myself to learn. I try to give all that credit to him because I know I wouldn't be here without him. God's bigger than basketball at the end of the day."
HOW TO BUY TICKETS
Full season and single game tickets to attend UTA men and women's basketball events are on sale through the UTA Box Office in person or by calling (817) 272-8585 and online through UTATickets.com. Season tickets are available for as low as $99 for all 30 men and women's games, which comes out to $3.30 per game. Single game tickets are priced at $8, $12 and $25 per game, depending on seat location. UTA students and faculty staff tickets are available for just $5 for a single game or at a reduced rate for season tickets. Discount Maverick Club (season) and general public (single game) parking is also available. Visit UTATickets.com for detailed information.
FOLLOW THE MAVS SOCIALLY
For up-to-date news, photos, videos and updates you can follow UTA sports program online at UTAMavs.com or via any of several social media accounts on twitter @UTAMavs, Instagram @UTAMavs, Snapchat @UTAMavs and Facebook at UTArlingtonAthletics. Follow the UTA basketball programs on Twitter at @UTA_MBB and @LadyMavHoops.
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